Lately I have been asked to describe my management style. I have a two-part belief system on this topic. First and foremost, roles and responsibilities are best clarified early and often. I have been known to blow up my own job description to very large type and place it at the front of the notebook I use every day. I use the job description as a compass: if a particular activity begins to feel too far afield or ill-aligned, I check it against this succinct list of big picture responsibilities. If the list itself needs updating, I simply bring it to my supervisor or partners at an appropriate time and we revise it together. Likewise, it is critical to review roles and responsibilities of those I supervise. Grievances can often be resolved through simple role clarification. The RACI matrix (Responsible-Accountable-Consulted-Informed) is extremely helpful for project management of all kinds.
At the same time, every community has a god or goddess whose style is thoroughly unique and whose personality lends magic to the organization. We must listen, adapt, and nurture as well as we can while getting through our work. One of the schools I attended has a famous story about a new administrator who tried unsuccessfully to discharge an octogenarian teacher who had influenced generations of students. That’s when I heard the phrase from someone much wiser than me, “Don’t shoot your gods.”